I’m new on the forum so hello everyone
I’m starting a new thread about reporting wildlife trade observations on iNaturalist, following a discussion on whether to mark these as captive or wild. The discussion is here.
There has been a few threads talking about reporting wildlife trade on iNat and there are a few projects in that regard - WWF’s Species in trade, Wild birds in cage, Wildlife trade: Mammals - so there is no question on the fact that reporting wildlife trade is beneficial. The question is more on ‘how’ and it seems there is no shared understanding.
Confusion is whether to label as ‘captive’ animals that are in cages, either because kept as pets (but could be coming from the wild) or in trade (for food, pets, religious release, medicine, etc.) The wording induces confusion:
- Posting an observation: ‘Captive or cultivated’ checkbox
- When editing there is an additional tooltip near the checkbox:
Was the organism cultivated or captive? For example, was it in a garden, zoo, aquarium or some other situation in which it was only present because human beings intended it to be there? All observations of living things are welcome, but we’d like to know when things are not wild / naturalized.
- Finally at the bottom of an obs is the DQA field ‘Organism is wild’, which gets downvoted automatically if the captive checkbox is checked. I just discovered it’s possible to upvote it (and it’s less obvious on the app), but I don’t know if people use this a lot.
Based on the checkbox wording, any wildlife seen in trade or pets taken from the wild should be listed as ‘captive’ and so get downvoted as non-wild. This limits the observation grade to Casual, even though that data is useful to researchers and ideally should be Research grade. There seems to be a consensus among people working in conservation active on the forum that these should be labelled as ‘wild’, but users may react either way.
For instance, about half of observations in the Species in Trade project are Casual grade even though most are wild animals. I’ve seen similar confusion in the comments below some obs.
This may lead to obs staying in limbo as each user will vote on the ‘organism is wild’ criteria with his own understanding (for instance on this observation but common elsewhere). The topic has also been discussed here, with users downvoting ‘organism is wild’ where they don’t understand (or check) the context. In the thread, a solution was proposed:
Maybe the problem is that “wild” ↔ “captive” is a false dichotomy, and that can be confusing. The options should probably be “wild” or “domestic” and “free” or “captive”. The typical zoo animal would be (wild, captive). A feral cat would be (domestic, free), it would help in this case to have an “introduce species” flag. Pets like cats and dogs would be (domestic, captive). While free/captive seems to be a clear choice most of the time, wild/domestic can be ambiguous.
Welcoming opinions on this, and whether some change to the wording or classification could make sense given the issue seem unresolved for several years. Hope this as my first forum post is not misplaced and sorry for the long post. Perhaps users working in that field or having discussed this point before could join in: @earthknight @kyoga @neontetraploid @shellfishgene @forfoxsake and @tiwane @cthawley from iNat that have commented on this topic before.